- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000

Disengaged Democrats

Voter turnout in the 2000 presidential primaries plummeted to the second-lowest level since 1960.
Worse yet, turnout by Democrats in the primaries remained the lowest in party history.
So reports the nonpartisan Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, based in Washington. And it isn't just the presidential candidates that Americans aren't turning out for.
The just-concluded statewide non-presidential primaries (governor and U.S. Senate races) saw turnout also running at the lowest levels in history, according to the CSAE. The falloff in voting was experienced in every demographic group except black women and people over 65.
Which all helps to explain the low television viewership for presidential conventions last month, when the CSAE notes "twice as many people watched one episode of 'Survivor' on [CBS] than watched any night of the national conventions on all the networks combined."
And what do these statistics spell for Election Day in November?
"[P]erhaps a historic low turnout," predicts the CSAE, "despite a highly competitive race, credible major party candidates and some significant differences between [Texas] Governor [George W.] Bush and Vice President [Al] Gore on several central and serious issues."
Thanks to one Republican presidential candidate, the news isn't all bad from the primary roundup. Sen. John McCain of Arizona sparked 12 GOP state turnout records through the March 7 Super Tuesday primaries.
Still, overall turnout in states that held presidential primaries for both parties was only 17 percent of the eligible vote, the second-lowest in the past 35 years.
Worse yet, only 8 percent of eligible Democrats showed up to vote in the primaries, tying the 1996 level, which was the lowest ever.
Even more embarrassing, only 6 percent of eligible Democrats showed up to vote after Super Tuesday.

Corporal congressman

A new political action committee is focusing on electing former U.S. military personnel, reservists and National Guardsmen to the U.S. Congress.
"The most effective way to ensure that the armed forces are properly engaged is to ensure that those making the decisions have a keen understanding of how our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines live, train and fight. In short, someone who has military experience," says the National Defense PAC.
The PAC, which labels itself nonpartisan, supports any candidate's bid for Congress so long as they've worn a uniform (active or reserve) of the nation's armed services.
"Since 1992, U.S. military personnel have been cut by over 700,000, including eight standing Army divisions," notes the PAC. "Twenty Air Force and Navy wings with 2,000 combat aircraft and 232 strategic bombers have also been pared. The Navy has lost four aircraft carriers and 121 surface combat ships and submarines. In addition, we have closed over 700 bases worldwide… .
"The U.S. military is in such a state that if called upon to muster a force comparable to the victorious Desert Shield/Storm contingent, it would fail."
The PAC's Web site (www.nationaldefensepac.org) contains a rather long list of former members of the armed services, all of whom happen to be Republican, who are candidates for Congress.

Self explanatory

Pythagorean theorem: 24 words.
The 10 Commandments: 179 words.
The Gettysburg Address: 286 words.
The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words.
Federal regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words.
Submitted by Stuart Miller

Mets fan

"I just for the record want to note that this is the first time in seven years that the Atlanta Braves are not in first place in the Eastern Division of [Major League Baseball's] National League. You will notice that the New York Mets are."
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart's world briefing last Friday.

Same punch line

Finally, one last letter arrived regarding our item last week on Washingtonian magazine's surprising everybody on Capitol Hill by voting North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms as No. 1 in the "Just Plain Nice" category.
"I was Jesse Helms' driver in his first Senate campaign back in 1972," writes Owen Jones, of Aiken, S.C., "so I spent as much time with him as anyone, and I can honestly say I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone, I never heard him say anything harshly or angrily, and he was almost obsessively kind to children.
"I did grow tired of the same jokes, however."

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